A large percentage of business in Kenya is generated by the small and medium sized enterprise. From most of the business owners that I have had the privilege to interact with, it is evident that a lot of the tech and digital buzz words that may be floating around make no real sense for them. The benefits of social networking, mobile web, mobile applications, software as a service, service as software, cloud computing etc are nonexistent, simply because their real world value is yet to be understood. This value for most of these small and medium sized businesses is pegged to increase in foot traffic. But how can the benefits of the web and mobile revolution be brought closer home?
Services such as Mocality, that is owned by the well heeled Naspers Group have built what could arguably be Kenya’s largest business directory in the quest to get more local businesses on the map. A great step forward especially with the tools that are built in to empower the listed businesses reach wider audiences and begin to exist in the minds of potential customers, from a search perspective.
However, what informs an individual’s purchase decision or on a minimum, interest in your product or service?
Enter social curation. As Clay Shirky a professor at NYU puts it, ““Curation comes up when people realize that it isn’t just about information seeking, it’s also about synchronizing a community”. Purchase decisions are made up of more than just the availability of information and the dangling of an offer or deal. As more and more people interact with information and have first hand experiences with your product or service, they inevitably become your brand ambassadors or not. It happens at the end of a search process where your potential consumer needs that last hook to engage with your business. This hook will most probably be found by way of a question posted on Twitter or Facebook or a comment on Foursquare left by a customer who “checked in” with your business and shared their experience across their entire network.
SME’s should therefore explore more opportunities to be in the conversations of their potential customers. There are numerous tools and services that can be used to seek out where these conversations are happening, or better yet create them. For example, a shoe retailer could use data mining tools such as SwiftRiver or Radian 6 to discover social web discussions about shoe trends. This provides a point of interaction with the consumer and an opportunity for brand engagement.
Simply put, if you can create or tap into the communities that are formed around your product or service, then the benefits of all the new and interesting things happening in the digital space will become apparent to you.